Category Archives: Sculpture

Cardboard Carpentry

An interlude to all my history of art, I bring to you Cardboard Carpentry. Inspired by my travels to清境 (pronounced qing1 jingo), Taiwan, I have attempted to take cardboard to another level but try to make it into furniture like those I have seen in the Carton King. These pieces are works-in-progress and are far from completion. Whatever you see below has been made purely from “recycled” cardboard boxes of televisions, washing machines, etc.

THE MOTIVE & INSPIRATION

IMG_3710IMG_3705

Rather simple – to find other uses for cardboard beyond the circular process of making more boxes or for purely aesthetic ones such a scrapbooking or mounting images on a surface.  As mentioned earlier, the tables, chairs, bags, games, etc from Carton King, 清境 got me thinking about the potential for the material. It is almost an everyday material – your bulky packages arrive in them and electronics are encased in huge ones amongst so many other things. I am not saying that we do not recycle them enough or more efficiently than when I create them, but rather I hope that this is an alternative that could get others going on the potential of it.

I wanted to stretch the material even further and try experimenting for myself with it. I asked myself if  someone else could do all that with the help of machinery, could I do it without, and if so, what would I make and how would I make it? As I mentioned in the post, 清境, I highly doubt that the cardboard used at Carton King came from recycled boxes simply do to the sheer volume of cardboard necessary to make all the goods for sale. In addition, the process of making all these goods are not only labor intensive, but also demand clean, unadulterated cardboard for a sellable finish.

THE MATERIAL

At its most basic form, it is essentially paper (or most times recycled paper) that has been treated to withstand handling, wear and tear, etc. Some have been treated to the extent that they are waterproof on the surface or reinforced with strong adhesives and numerous layers. The standard cardboard will have a corrugated “core” that enhances it’s strength, yet allows it to maintain a relatively light mass so that it does not add unnecessary weight in addition to the object that it contains.

As can be seen in the image on the right, the corrugation is triangular in fashion, in order to give it some strength and durability. However, more often than not cardboard will end up creased along the hollow areas if bent or folded parallel to the corrugation due to handling and it is difficult to find cardboard surfaces that are not tainted by these crease marks. It is almost impossible to obtain a clean finish if one uses cardboard as the main material of a structure. Pressure on the surface will also cause dents in the cardboard that may look aesthetically displeasing in addition to compromising the structural integrity. Over time, lines are bound to appear and the colour will almost definitely go off if not chemically treated in any way.

Furthermore, this material is susceptible to the elements, rarely lasting a day in inclement weather. In the rain, watermarks will appear in blotches like mould on bread and eventually the card will go soft and lose all structural integrity rending it useless in nearly all circumstances, especially its purpose to protect and contain items. (Do not get me wrong though. Soggy, drenched cardboard still has many uses. However, I was and currently am attempting to keep the material in the condition that I received it in.)

That being said, it is recyclable, biodegradable and in most circumstances environmentally friendly if recycling remains a self-sustaining cycle, easily being broken down and remade into its former self. But, I highly doubt that is the case.

THE PROCESS

As much as it may be hard to believe, the process was rather straight forward. My process of making the chair was an immediate transition from conceptualization to realization. I was determined to not sketchout my plans, dimensions, etc. but immediately start constructing the chair on the spot. This “spur of the moment” methodology is something that I have grown up with and continued to hone after all these years, constantly thinking three-dimensionally rather 20150206_205701than going through the intermediate two-dimensional process of sketches and written words. Personally, I find that this process demands a lot of forward thinking as well as instantaneous problem solving. When a problem comes up during my process, I will have to immediately troubleshoot in order to not ruin the flow of creating the piece. I have applied this process to many of my works which includes majority of International Baccalaureate submissions revolving around the theme of Space. I understand that stating this becomes a matter of trust, as you readers and audiences truly do not know if I actually sketched out any part of my process or not.

televisor-sony-bravia-32-serie-r42b-18124-MLV20149621861_082014-F

Moving on from the transitionary phase between conceptualization and actually manifesting the product, I contemplated the design and aesthetic look of the piece. At the start, in my mind’s eye, the chair was to be a simple one. It would have a square base of which three sides would act as “legs” or main support of the chair and last would remain unsupported. In addition, there would also be an armrest and a backrest. Overall, It would be asymmetrical in nature.

With that in mind, I started to take measurements from other chairs and used them as references when determining the height of my construct. The cardboard box, which originally contained a SONY Bravia television (Image above), was then divided cut up into separate segments using the fold lines20150103_000033 as guides. The largest area were then divided into three segments which would then become the three sided support of the chair. The unused cardboard was set aside to increase the strength and durability of these supports. The seat area (image on the right) was cut from the other large surface of the box and reinforced with corrugated cardboard that was meant to protect the television from any impact.

After making a hell of a mess in my room, I ended up with the basic components to create the form of my chair (Image below).
20150102_235949

As I imagined it in my head, the chair would not be that aesthetically appealing other than the fact that it was made purely out of cardboard and glue. So in the moment, I made the decision to cut out fame-like shapes at the sides as can be seen in the image above. This simple design was sparked by old Chinese chair 20150103_003231designs (usually cylindrical), where the center of the support would be cut out and a rectangular frame would be left. I believed that that design was simple yet sophisticated enough to catch the eye yet retain the structural strength to support a man’s weight. To enhance the strength of the chair, I made layers of these frames, which unknowingly added some depth to the side of the chair and enhance the aesthetics of the chair further. Keeping with the asymmetrical theme of this particular project, I decided that not all side will have the same concept of depth, with each side being layered with a different number of cardboard sheets. The finished components can be seen in the picture on the right.

In addition to all these “flourishes”, I continually pondered over how I could enhance the strength of this chair, which led me to reinforce the area where most chair legs would be. Making a huge mess, I cut up long, wide strips of cardboard from various other recycled boxes to form square pillared legs for the chair and, after gluing them on, am in the midst of tidying up their aesthetic look but pasting on unmarked strips of cardboard. Due to the small surface area of the contact point between the leg segment and the maid body of the chair, I decided to use epoxy to ensure that the legs remain fast to the main frame. The end product can be seen below.

20150206_205706

As an intermission and with a strong desire to finish “something” and hold it in my hands, I made another small footstool out of the leftover cardboard. This simple stool was made out of numerous layer of cardboard with detachable legs. 20150509_181954Being compact, it also it durable, easily support heavy weights.You can see it from the images on the right. From the top view, you can also see how cardboard is prone to creases and folds. Nevertheless, I believe that it is a project that anyone can undertake and should try at least once if there is any leftover cardboard lying around the house.

References:
The Carton King (thewanone post)
The Carton King (Website)
Cardboard (Wikipedia)

Advertisements

Atmospheric Affair

IMG_2810
To continue where I left of, this is one of two climaxes of my play. By now those who have been reading are familiar with my work Tabula Rasa. Exhibited in Asia’s only sustainable light festival, iLight Marina Bay Singapore, Tabula Rasa is a light installation piece within a shipping container. The container was part of nine other containers stacked up one on top of another to form a three-by-three square grid to form an artwork by the New Zealand art collective/studio Storybox. In order to make their work more interesting, they invited various schools in Singapore to submit proposals on installation pieces that could utilize the space within the two containers that sat on the base layer. One of the schools was Laselle, College of The Arts and the other was mine, representing School Of The Arts, Singapore.

IMG_2423

This piece was a major turning point of my artistic process for many reasons. For one, this piece made me think beyond the physical aspects and elements of a space, forcing me to look beyond into metaphysical elements such as sound, wind and light. In many ways, I feel that most developing and practicing artist forget that these invisible elements play crucial roles in the interpretation of an artwork. I, for one, look at all works with this in mind. Ingrained deeply in me are the words “respect the space” and with that planted a seed that continuously tells me to be aware of the space that I am in. This has allowed me to perceive environments in more ways than the usual first impression and contemplate the possibilities of that space whether I use it or not in the future. In addition, the fact that this piece was to be put under the public eye made both the journey and the final product things that had to be carefully considered. Questions like “how will the audience respond?” and “what would people think?” constantly haunted me during the process. As a student artist, audience may be forgiving on some level, however, the fact that it is open to the elements means that you are attempting to impress an idea upon people, who will in turn project their response whether it be desirable or not. Ultimately, your passion for the idea will show through, and, as I believe, people will see into that piece of your soul which you have laid out to the public eye and choose to accept it or not. It is the moment that YOU or I can make an impact. It was a turning point of change for both maker and viewer.

In this piece I used light and a smoke machine to create walls of light, much like the light curtains used in technical theatre. In contrast to those in theatre, I created these walls to be horizontal rather than vertical. This was achieved by constructing a false wall that was flushed to the left side of the container which housed both the LED lights as well as the smoke machine. After fixing the lights and the smoke machine in place, a curtain draped over the gap and the entrance in order to conceal the fixtures whiles simultaneously preventing the excessive escape of smoke from the container. Other than these four components, the rest of the container was left empty for people to walk in and immerse themselves into the installation. From the entire duration of the exhibition, the lights would be left on and the smoke machine was programmed to release burst of smoke at regular intervals to maintain the atmospheric effect within the container.

IMG_2695

The objective of this installation was to sensitize people to the space that they were entering and to make them question “what exactly was the artwork?” By this atmospheric effect within the container, I wanted to see if people realized that as they stepped in, they became part of the work. I hoped that they would be able to “feel” their bodies being severed from their heads and legs due to the walls of light and realise the impact of lighting on any space, thereby emphasising how simple, minimalistic metaphysical elements can change not only a person’s impression of the space, but also change the impression of how others view them in that space.

IMG_2712

As can be seen from the images above, a children may have been the only ones who manage to fully experience the environment created. I believe that with their imaginative capacity and sense of playfulness, they saw exactly what I intended the artwork to do. This brought to mind yet another revelation – sometimes we need not be so serious in viewing works that we have to judge them whenever we see them merely because we have the capacity to do so. Being perceptive and fully aware is one thing. But being quick to judge and criticize falls under an entirely different category. Let us first soak in the atmosphere, the piece’s and our surroundings before we start to analyze and attempt to appreciate what lays before our eyes. Mind you, that I said “attempt to”, as I know that to honestly appreciate something  is easier said than done.

IMG_2663

All in all, this work gave me an opening and also opened my eyes by exposing me more to the world of an artist. Not a “student artist”, but a full, practicing one. I could go on and on with the epiphanies and revelations that flooded my mind and have continuously been doing so, but I shall leave it at that and hope that you take some time to decipher my almost cryptographic handwritings in the following posts that they may both enlighten and inspire you as those revelations have greatly inspire me.

Doors – Physical Manifestation of Conceptual Transitions

In the beginning…

There were doors…

14497Now a flashback to past! Back to Space. I hope those who are checking have begun reading Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, for I drew inspiration for my initial works mainly from that novel.

Moving on to doors…

This body of works come as an exploration of what we so often take for granted. Yes, we know that a basic room is made of four walls and a door, possibly windows thrown inabbas-kiarostami-photography on the side. However, we recognise the walls that lay right there in front of our eyes, but often neglect the entrance into that space. This consideration made me question – how do we view doors? a transitioning point into another space or a mere object barring the way and obstructing movement between spaces?

In my opinion, doors signify a transitioning point between one space and another. Even as they stand alone without her brother, solid, concrete walls, they divide space according to where they are placed. Many see walls as the main divider of space, I on the other hand was always intrigued by doors taking on that role instead. That idea conjured images of C.S. Lewis illustration of the cupboard in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, where the four children step into the wondrous magical land of Narina simply by stepping through the door of a cupboard in the attic. Similarly, Neil Gaiman’s novel, Neverwhere, depicts a girl who can open doors to any place she desire to go to, a room, an alleyway, etc. These inspirations emphasised my concept of a door being a transtioning point, a divider of space and made me further question the functions of a door and people’s perception of what a door is.

I then went on to break down the door, literally and figuratively. This came in the form of discovering how the components of a door were made – the hinges, the frame, IMG_1645the door itself, and attempting to recreate all these components myself form the raw materials I had on hand in the studios.This process saw me buying all the different variations of hinges that I could get my hands on, garden gate hinges, typical door hinges, even “manufacturing” my own hinges varying in size and material to really feel how each part of a door contributed to the entire system that we see in every room. In going through this process, I discovered the process of art making, handling and feeling the material, to stretch it to its limits and push it further than I have ever done before. IMG_1538I would flatten, hammer, even soften aluminium just to create my own hinges. In that rigorous, laborious journey, I found satisfaction in simply “making”, and it gave me such great joy to just appreciate the final product and know that I saw IMG_1539 2the process from beginning to end. The simple realization that I was actually creating the door from scratch made me reflect deeply on the art making journey that all artist embark on. That, as artists, each component, whether it be a brushstroke or a single nook made by a chisel, matters greatly in the grand scheme of things. it is an initial step in to the creation of an entire system thatIMG_1642 2 allows a work to become whole and, ultimately, convey what the artist’s soul want to share with his audiences, to challenge norms and draw viewers out of their comfort zone.

At the end of this investigation, I came up with a series of works that represented my exploration and research over the year. (I know most might think “one year is a long time for such few works”, but I will explain later.) These series sought to break down the conventional concept of the door and in doing so hope to subvert people’s stereotype of what a door represents. For instance, in the piece on the right, I delineated the wall and the door in three-dimensional space through the use of a line. This use of the line arose as I considered the simplest form of mark making and how it could be translated from two-dimensional to three-dimensional space. Its final manifestation was to be a single beam that would be “drawn” across the space I wished to divide. It would start at one end, connected to the wall, and run, roughly at an average person’s shin, to close to the other end. At that point, the beam would rise then continues to the end of the wall to form the form of the door. By breaking down the form to the bare minimum, I hoped to challenge the conventional stereotype of the door – can it just be the outline? Is that line sufficient an obstruction for people to realise the existence of that door? And that, I believed successfully captured the essence of the exploration at that point.

Now, I hope you all enjoy the galleria below:

2) Door (1)
Door (1), 2011
36 x 24 x 22
Plywood, Manufactured hinges
3) Door (4)
Door (2), 2011
36 x 24 x 18
Plywood
4) Door (3)
Door (3), 2011
36 x 24 x 18
Plywood, Acrylic Mirror
5) Door (2)

Door (4), 2011
36 x 24 x 22
Plywood, Manufactured hinges
6) Door (5)
Door (5), 2011
70 x 29 x 27
Plywood, Solid Wood

References:
Abbas Kiarostami Photography
Neil Gaiman’s – Neverwhere
C.S. Lewis – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Anthony McCall: Projection Artist

Anthony McCall – an artist that greatly inspired my recent IBDP body of works (Link to Grasping the Intangible, Manipulating the Metaphysical). He is an avant-garde, cinema and projection artist who deals with many multiple projection works that seek to create not just a two-dimensional experience, but a total atmospheric experience to audiences, immersing them into all four dimensions.

(For those that do not know that there are four dimensions, let me elaborate a bit on the subject with respect to the artistic process. The second and third dimension are both well known to us. the second being the flat plane, where drawings and paintings exist with no literal visible movement. The third dimension is where sculptural and installation pieces exist. These pieces integrate movement and a more defined interaction between the work, the space they are displayed in as well as the audiences that view the piece. At times, these pieces specifically seek to emphasize the relationship between audiences and artworks and interpretation can be greatly subject to the lighting and nature. However, in some instances, three-dimensional pieces start to flow into the fourth dimension – time. The fourth dimension considers the effect of time in or on an artwork. Moving sculptures, movies, etc. arguably are affected by the fourth dimension, playing a great role in the conceptual development of the work. Works that make use of this element include John Cage’s 4:33 and Michael Wesley’s Open Shutter Project painstaking time-lapsed photographs, both of which ultimate pay tribute to the element of time drastically changing and morphing a work’s outcome to give a different final “piece” depending on the time and space in which it is displayed or made.)

mccall_1840903b

anthony05

Rochechouart-LDAC-Installation5min(col).tif

Going back to McCall’s works, they consist of intricately and accurately project rays of light into a smokey, hazy atmosphere created with smoke machines. These rays of light then form shapes, patterns and almost three-dimensional “objects” that exist within the negative space of a room. These projections’ metaphysical form take on such solidity, especially on camera, that one cannot help but feel that they are actually physically there and that you might just be able to grasp the object and feel the grainy texture courtesy of the smoke. These “solid-light” installations exist in the intersection of drawings, cinema and sculptural installation, beginning with the series Line Describing a Cone (above) in 1973, where the metaphysical form of light slowly transforms in three-dimensional space, thus involving the fourth dimension of change.

Anthony McCall has, in this way, inspired some of my works. His works are metaphysical, interacting with the space to create almost solid object from, literally, thin air. This made me question “what was actual artwork, the projections of light, the intangible objects’ interaction with space, the audiences’ interaction with the projection or maybe even just the concept of questioning and think about this?” It went on to reveal to me the potential that each space has, regardless of history or future, whether it was filled or entirely empty, a space was a space, unchanging and ready to be defined according to the terms of the artist.

The places and stereotypes of where we exist in are only constrained by terms and conditions that we define, causing us to be slightly narrow-minded in terms of the environment’s potential. We then seek to create objects to exist within the space, without fully considering that the space itself affects how one can perceive what final product you displayed. Ultimately, this might result in people not asking the questions we desire our art to stimulate, but rather create confusion between viewer and concept. Therefore, from the lighting to physical positioning of a work, the space must be considered not just as a exhibition area, but also a medium in itself.

As some might have seen, my work which was displayed at iLight Marina Bay Singapore, Tabula Rasa, 2012sought to play with space. Reminded by the quote that now echoes through my mind, “respect the space”, I created a work that was crucial in changing my conceptual thinking. In the process of developing this work, I considered all the various elements of space, from the walls to the lighting in our surrounding and using the intangible elements, I sought to pay tribute to what was not physically there but still significantly affected our perception of objects – light. In doing so, I created a work that was a pivotal transitioning point, widening my horizons beyond the doors that were before it. Without it, and the inspiration of Science and Anthony McCall’s works, I do not think that I would have been successful in creating the body of works that gave me overall success in not only my examinations, but maturity as a developing artist.

Anthony McCall’s Site

References:

John Cage

Michael Wesley

Guardian Newspaper UK

Grasping The Intangible, Manipulating The Metaphysical (Cont’d)

Since you have already read my short little “monologue”, I want to give you an initial glimpse into my works in yet another verbal expose. This short segment comes from my Artist/Candidate Statement during my IBDP years and was submitted as a part of my examination requirement together with my Visual Arts portfolio. This statement is an attempt to summarize all my thought processes and conceptual thinking into a compacted summary. So here it is…

My investigation draws inspiration from architectural elements – not the physical, but rather the negative spaces created after a structure has been erected, spaces within the frames in which we exist. Initially, I had difficulty condensing this ambiguous theme into something that reflected my experience and area of interest. It called for much thought and experimentation, including exploring basic visual elements that could express my concern with space, and approaches such as to-scale maquettes and observing people’s reactions to space.

In this exploration, I looked at space not so much as a place for exhibition, but as a material in itself – something that could be manipulated and controlled. I sought to create works that would not only exist as objects, but also respond to a variety of environments. Through my works, I aim to bring to awareness how I approach and experience a space, as well as the potential I see for it. While examining linear elements and the lighting that architects and artists use to define certain spaces, I created responses in the form of doors, site-specific lighting works and “line” works. I believe that these lines and lighting techniques are objects that define space in a subtle manner, but are often overlooked and misunderstood.

Artists like Peter Callesen and Anthony Mccall have spurred me on to work with different media such as paper and light, and to approach them through various less conventional techniques that draw attention to elements of space.

As my works are impacted by the surroundings in which they exist, in the process as they are altered, re-made or take on different forms, the material carries with it a sense of “history”, of continuity. These works represent part of an on-going investigation that grapples with the intangible. The process of working with space knows no limit.

Now most may wonder why post this block of words talking about a concept of space but to not actually demonstrating the use of space through installations and sculptures? The answer is simple – a book started this investigation. The book’s title, Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. Neil Gaiman is a bestselling author of fantasy novels, elucindating intricate details in deeps mysterious novels. Neverwhere portrays the journey of a girl, Door, who can open any door to any place she desired. This got me thinking about transitional spaces, questioning “what makes a door what it it?”, “does a door truly matter to the space?” and “what defines a door and its existence?”

For those who have not read Neverwhere, I strongly encourage you to do so. Afterward, share with my your insights and thoughts regarding the characters in relation to my concept of transitional space. In my opinion, it was the best and most unforgettable of Neil Gaiman’s collection of novels.

Grasping the Intangible, Manipulating the Metaphysical

At last!!! I can present to you my body of works that I conceived during my International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IBDP). This program requires students who take art to create and exhibit a body of work, and their processes, that revolves around a theme of their choice. The medium and specialization is unspecified and students are then graded not by their specialization, but purely as art “majors” by artist-examiners from other IBDP schools.

However, in SOTA, things ran slightly differently and it was to my benefit that they did. Given the choice of actually choosing a specialization, I chose sculpture and this gave me a wide exposure to a variety of mediums and techniques within the specialization. As, most might see, I am not a classical sculptor, dabbling in stone or wood carvings. Being more of a contemporary sculptor, I put concepts before my works in the hope that the concepts will speak through my pieces to audiences. All this is done with the aim of challenging stereotypes, norms and other conceptions that people may have. Now some may wonder, “How can a person with little or no classical training come up with something that can truly be called art, or abstract art for that matter?” That, I will let you as audiences decide for yourselves. For me, it has always been about my processes and my journey of self discovery and creation. Through that, I hope people will see my works as substantial pieces that speak for themselves in more ways than one.

To start it all of, I will introduce to you the concept and theme – Space. As you may have read from my posts, space, to me, is more than just a place for displays or somewhere that we exist. It is a medium, intangible and vast.  My two-year investigation drew upon the negative spaces of the more commonly thought of architectural elements of positive space. Perceiving space as a material rather than just an environment opened up my eyes to the potential of this medium. Inspired by artists such as Peter Callesen, Olafur Eliason and Anthony McCall, I sought to create a reciprocative relationship between audience and the environment, one that is continuous, and appeals to not just one audience, but many regardless of upbringing, race, religion,etc.

This body of works that I am about to present to you over the next few posts will bring you through my processes and tell you a story like you have never heard before. And do not forget that all this is an ongoing process to dabble with the profoundness of space. I wish that as you read and view my posts, you contemplate about the spaces that you exist in, even as you read this post, and see if you can think out of its confines to see it as a place of contentment and satisfaction. If you do not, I challenge you to change it, to create it as it were, and make it into your own.